Doing the research
Before embarking upon creative task of designing a website, it is well worth to perform research. Research entails studying references of competitors websites (both successful and not successful), clients' needs and desires, the type of industry the website is about, the colors, graphics and styles that are predominant in a certain industry. It also helps a lot if client has a reference site in mind to communicate what he or she has got in mind. This will bridge the toughest part of communication as designs can be an infinite number of creations - but making it click with the client is the biggest challenge yet still serving the needs for the project. Sometime one may encounter clients that have no clue as to what they may wantin their website and they will rely on the web designer to come up with the design concpets for the website, and this is where the research will help a lot.
Let your mind run wild!
After research part is accomplished, the next step would be to brainstorm ideas based upon the research and needs of your client. This is where you can run your mind wild - no hold bars. Brainstorming can kick start the creative design process. Depending upon the level of creativity, a web designer can come up with multiple design avenues in a short period of time. The hard part now is to narrow down the different ideas to one that will be the winner!
Do the design
Before starting the web design, it is best to review the multiple ideas with the client and also list down the requirements of the project, both visual and technical. Ultimately, one has to marry the technology with the looks and deliver an effective product. Start the website design by creating wireframes. Adobe offers multiple softwares for such designing. If SEO is the key for such a project, then it needs to have text spaces allocated which should be html based. For an impact building website, you may want to rely on flash design.